The pressures for organizations to be competitive in today's
world economy are constantly growing. The economy, competition,
employment statistics and legal compliance are ever demanding
factors companies are facing. Health and safety compliance is, and
should be, the top priority for organizations. One of the great
system tools available to meet this priority is OHSAS 18001. OHSAS
18001 is a system that provides organizations the structured
framework necessary to demonstrate compliancy as well as develop
cost effective and efficient operations.
OHSAS 18001 is a set of voluntary guidelines for establishing a
systematic process of health and safety management. The underlying
principle of OHSAS 18001 is that it is a continual improvement
process encompassing four steps: Plan, Do, Check, Act.
There a numerous benefits to an organization implementing an
OHSAS 18001 management system.
1. OHSAS 18001 is an international standard. For global
organizations trying to address regulations and requirements from
several different legal jurisdictions, adopting OHSAS 18001 as the
organization's mandatory safety management system gives the
organization one common standard to which all entities may be
monitored and measured, no matter the differences in local
regulations and requirements.
2. OHSAS 18001 provides a formal structure to identify and
control work-related health and safety risks to workers,
contractors and visitors. The sections of OHSAS 18001 identify key
areas that organizations may miss by not using a structured
framework. A few areas may be structure and responsibility;
training, awareness and competence; objectives and targets;
performance monitoring and measuring; and internal auditing.
3. OHSAS 18001 provides a competitive advantage. As a
recognizable international standard, customers immediately
recognize a demonstrated commitment by the organization in health
and safety at the workplace. A formal safety management system may
also be required by customers in order to become a supplier to the
4. OHSAS 18001 is compatible with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001. An
organization can easily integrate OHSAS 18001 into an already
established quality or environmental management program.
5. The OHSAS 18001 management system provides evidence of
compliance to legal and other requirements. Transparency between
the documented procedures to the requirements aids in providing
corporate due diligence.
6. OHSAS 18001 provides for cost reduction opportunities such as
worker compensation costs, lost production, legal costs, and costs
for additional manpower due to lost-time injuries. A formal
incident investigation and corrective action tracking system
provide better identifi cation for root cause and reduction in
7. OHSAS 18001 ensures continual improvement of the health and
safety management system, policies and programs through the
internal auditing process. Audits identify conformances,
nonconformances and opportunities for improvement within the safety
management system. Annual internal audits help not only to
continually look for improvements to the system, but also prepare
for any surveillance or certification audits by a third party
8. OHSAS 18001 requires management review. Top level management
must review the operation of the safety management system to assess
if it has been fully implemented and followed, is achieving
compliance, continues to support the organization's policy and
provides for continual improvement. Having the responsibility for
the system come from the top down promotes greater buy-in and
acceptance by workers and supervisors.
Implementing an OHSAS 18001 management system may appear
daunting, but there are many significant benefits to an
organization. By implementing this management system, an
organization makes a firm commitment to the continual improvement
of safety performance, which ultimately leads to a healthy and safe
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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